Didier Drogba’s 41st-minute penalty looked to have earned us all three points but Beckford headed a shock leveller four minutes from time.
Everton almost shocked us in the opening few seconds when Louis Saha’s shot from 20-yards forced Petr Cech into a fine save at his near post.
Moments later Leighton Baines fired high over the bar whilst we still seemed to be struggling to get to grips with the high-octane opening from the visitors.
Our first real attack came in the 12th minute when Drogba put Nicolas Anelka ahead of the visiting defence. But his shot was blocked by Phil Jagielka to the relief of Everton keeper Tim Howard.
We felt we should have had a penalty when Jose Bosingwa’s cross appeared to hit the hand of Sylvain Distin but referee Lee Probert was not impressed. Anelka tried his luck in the 20th minute but his shot flashed wide of Howard’s right-hand upright. The woodwork prevented us from taking the lead a few minutes later when John Terry sent a shot against the bar. It followed a sustained spell of pressure from us which resulted in a spat between Florent Malouda and Everton’s Phil Neville
Neville twice lunged at the France international from behind causing the Chelsea player to retaliate. Referee Probert took no action; however Neville was booked minutes later when he fouled Drogba on the halfway line, much to the consternation of Everton manager David Moyes.
Another chance for us went begging in the 37th minute when Salomon Kalou headed wide from a corner by Malouda.
We eventually broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 41st minute when Anelka pounced on a poor back pass from Neville and was brought down by Howard. The Everton keeper was spared a red card by Probert, who opted for a yellow instead, but Howard could do nothing to stop Drogba’s fierce penalty from giving us the lead.
Everton began the second half the brighter but Jack Rodwell’s shot from 20 yards left a lot to be desired. His effort was well wide of the target but Everton were showing signs of a revival. In the 57th minute Everton replaced Saha with Jermaine Beckford but despite having much of the possession, they could not find a way through our rearguard.
We were still a danger on the counter-attack. Drogba might have done better when Bosingwa’s cross allowed him time to turn inside the penalty area but the Ivory Coast striker’s shot was easily saved by Howard. Everton almost levelled in the 61st minute when a cross from Leighton Baines was headed against the inside of the post by Rodwell.
We now seemed on the back foot having to defend in numbers. There was controversy in the 72nd minute when John Terry and Tim Cahill squared up to each other after the Everton midfielder had collided with Cech.
Players from both sides got involved in the aftermath as the Chelsea goalkeeper was given lengthy treatment to his forehead.
Agonisingly for us, four minutes from time a cross from Baines was headed back across the six-yard box for substitute Beckford, a replacement for Saha, to head home.
This result leaves us with just one win in our last six league games and the prospect of a difficult away trip next weekend against Tottenham.
Gill Reeves – disabled rep CSG